cover image In a Heartbeat

In a Heartbeat

Elizabeth Adler. Delacorte Press, $24.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-385-33383-2

Acceptable as a substitute for daytime soap opera viewing, if nothing else, this contemporary romantic thriller fails to live up to favorite Adler titles like Peach and Fortune Is a Woman. Heavy on the romance and light on the thrills, the writer's 13th novel is all lather and featherweight intrigue. Ed Vincent, a real estate tycoon with a mysterious past, has been shot by a would-be assassin and lies comatose in a New York hospital. His love interest, Georgia peach Melba Merrydew, also a target, comes to grieve by Ed's bedside. Enter Marco Camelia, a handsome homicide detective, who, with Melba's help, investigates Ed's shadowy past, all the while falling in lust with Melba's Southern charm and sun-kissed legs. The one-dimensional characters are modeled not on real-life counterparts but on their movie star prototypes (Adler reminds the reader a number of times that Melba looks like Sharon Stone and Marco is a ringer for Pacino, while Ed owns a building named Vincent Towers, la Trump Tower). The slow-moving, clich -ridden tale is not rescued by the action-packed finaleDtoo little, too late. Even Adler's fans may find her latest outing uninspiring, although chances are they'll go along for the ride; but Adler won't pick up many new readers based on this title. (Dec.)